This is going to be a super personal post. It reflects the change that has happening in my life, business and purpose in life. When I first setup E-creation in 1998, my goal was to achieve freedom, that is, freedom to do with my time what I wanted without having to go into an office and work for somebody else. This didn’t mean becoming rich in a financial sense or at least, that never felt important to the freedom I’d imagined. I was achieving a decent salary within the first few years of E-creation, had invested in property but it felt like life was work with very little time for anything else.
So, after the first five years of making growth E-creation’s aim, I took the decision to make ‘concentration’ our the new aim. Reduce the size and demands of E-creation on me without reducing the rewards it offered in a slow, managed process that would get me to my goal of freedom.
The process itself is not that interesting. It involved closing an office that was servicing 10+ employees, moving to using freelancer experts rather than employees, moving from the hustle & bustle of London to Bournemouth, establishing a home office and winding down online marketing efforts over the course of 10 years. Ten years might seem like a long time but it’s difficult stepping away from the key driving factor in my life up till that point, even with the ultimate goal of ‘early retirement’ within sight. As the pressures & demands of E-creation have eased off with projects becoming smaller, a stimulus vacuum began to form. I found myself filling my time with other business activities, using the knowledge and experience gained from E-creation to setup micro businesses that were more for the love of the activity rather than for financial gain.
Since we are talking about drivers – and a change in the drivers for E-creation – I wanted to briefly talk about some of those businesses and why they came into being.
After spending several snowboard seasons in France & Canada and getting my CASI instructors certification, I noticed a gap in the way time-poor people were taught. I developed my own ultra intensive snowboard instruction course, using a training DVD for mind and muscle training before students arrived at my chalet in Lahti, Finland. I spent several years during the winter months living in Finland, delivering snowboard lessons and enjoying Finnish life.
Cooking has always been a passion, so when I setup this catering company, little did I realise that one – cooking commercially for other people is boring and two – choosing the wrong brand name means you can end up servicing a specific sector (hen parties) and finally, three – hen parties are dangerous places be.
I love kitesurfing. Having free time give me the chance to kitesurf whenever I wanted (great when we are younger and the body is less battered than at the age of 45). Like most things we love, we naturally want to share the experiences we love. So after many friends struggled to book kitesurfing lessons at reasonable prices, I created my own kitesurf school in Bournemouth, which ran for a year.
This was perhaps my most ‘commercial’ venture – funding & putting in a business infrastructure for a friend’s hair salon. After four years of business, not having hair and not really caring much about the sector was an interesting learning curve and all I can say is, do what you love.
After my daughter was upset by a border control officer asking if she had a passport for her teddy bear Roly, I created an instant teddy bear passport app for the iPhone that does all the stuff a real passport does (like stamping the city & country you are in). Happy daughter = happy me!
After doing business consultancy in the LED lighting sector and trying to light my own garden effectively, I found that I couldn’t buy intricate filament, warm-light LED bulbs for outdoor use. My garden was lit by over 60 traditional Edison style filament bulbs but is wasn’t cheap at all to run. So, working with manufacturers in China, I created a range of festoon lighting with intricate filament LED bulbs.
So, what about now? Today, literally, this morning, I realised that whilst E-creation is still active as a company, it’s purpose has completely changed. E-creation has always been an ideas company. And ideas need to be shared to live & grow. Previously I would have used my personal blog to share what is important to my personal everyday life – food, design, ideas, music, books – yet actually, all these things together are E-creation. With that in mind, the content of the E-creation.co.uk website will be evolving to reflect that.
How is this going to work? Four weeks ago I went to the funeral of the mother of my best friends in early school years. It was a difficult occasion but I seeing my friend who I’d not seen in close to 20 years whilst I’d been working on various business and somehow fell out of touch as good. My friend’s mother had for many years been saying that we should get in touch again but somehow, never made the time or got the chance (depending on how self critical one wants to be).
Today, my friend is visiting me in Bournemouth (where his mother used to drive us down to at the weekend when we were teenagers) with his wife and two children. And I’ve been cooking a recipe which his Persian father taught me almost 30 years ago and as I’ve been preparing, I’ve been thinking about how food brings people together.
So, from this point, whilst I will continue to keep the E-creation website up-to-date but focused on cooking & recipes, cool new business ideas, how I day trade for pocket money, the inside track on the buy-to-let market in Bournemouth and how I try to make the most of a time-rich life … starting with this amazing recipe for Persian Tah Dig Rice in my next post.